NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2023
Should the Penguins re-sign or trade Jake Guentzel? What will they do after settling Drew O’Connor’s arbitration? Who could the Golden Knights move if they need to make a cost-cutting trade? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently examined whether the Penguins will re-sign Jake Guentzel or trade him before his unrestricted free-agent eligibility next summer. The 29-year-old winger carries an average annual value of $6 million on his current contract.
A two-time 40-goals scorer, Guentzel will likely command a significant raise on his next contract. Given the future salary cap escalation, Kingerski believes a five or six-year contract between $7 million and $8 million seems a workable range. He has concerns about Guentzel’s size and durability as he ages but noted that the winger has proven him wrong in the past.
Kingerski thinks the Penguins will retain Guentzel given their current commitment to winning. With the salary cap expected to rise significantly next summer, he believes they can easily afford to invest $7-$8 million in him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A bounce-back performance by the Penguins this season along with another 70-80 point effort by Guentzel should ensure he remains in Pittsburgh. That’s assuming he’s willing to accept between $7-$8 million annually on a new long-term contract to stay put. His agent could insist on a full no-trade clause or no-movement clause if the Penguins won’t go over $8 million annually.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat observes the Penguins settling with Drew O’Connor before his arbitration hearing will open a 48-hour contract buyout window for the club. With trade rumors tying them to San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson, this allows them to buy out the remaining two years of Mikael Granlund’s contract.
Granlund currently sits on the Penguins’ books with an annual cap hit of $5 million. Buying him out would free up over $4 million for 2023-24, giving them additional cap space to acquire Karlsson. That’s assuming no other team is willing to acquire Granlund.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s been my theory (and that of other observers) as to why the Penguins haven’t yet pulled the trigger on acquiring Karlsson. We’ll soon find out if they’re heading down that path.
As per Dan Kingerski, the buyout window begins on the third day following O’Connor’s signing. That means it will open on Saturday and close on Monday.
WHO COULD BECOME A GOLDEN KNIGHTS COST-CUTTING TRADE CANDIDATE?
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jesse Granger was asked if there was a scenario that would see the Vegas Golden Knights move one of their veteran defensemen to make room for younger blueliners like Zach Whitecloud and Nicolas Hague to free up cap dollars to invest in their forward lines.
If the Golden Knights were to move a player to create cap space, Granger believes defenseman Alec Martinez would be the likely candidate. The 36-year-old blueliner has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.25 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are currently cap compliant with goaltender Robin Lehner on long-term injury reserve. I think they’re content with their current roster heading into 2023-24.
Should Lehner come off LTIR during the season, they’ll have to free up cap room for his $5 million cap hit. Under that scenario, Martinez could be the most likely trade candidate.